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    The Avengers Get Schooled in MARVEL Avengers Academy

    8a26fdc9-653c-4f8c-a289-00039092c26dWhether it’s on TV, in movie theaters, or in the pages of the comic books that spawned them, you can’t turn around these days without seeing superheroes. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I mean, I’ve made no secret about my crush on Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man. But as much fun as these characters are, it’s kind of hard for some of the younger crowd to really relate to them. After all, it’s not like they’re dealing with things like school, socializing, or fashion faux pas when they’re not out saving the world. That’s where TinyCo’s new mobile game, MARVEL Avengers Academy, comes in.

    MARVEL Avengers Academy takes the cast of characters from Marvel and reimagines them as college age students at the newly minted (and still under construction) Avengers Academy.  Players will recruit Marvel heroes and villains as students enrolling in the school, teach them how to use their powers, and even build up the school with new classrooms, dorms, and superhero necessities like aircraft hangars and shooting ranges. Imagine “The Avengers Meets Saved by the Bell” and you’ll start to get a good idea about the game.

    Building on that whole hipper, younger superhero theme, TinyCo pulled together a surprisingly talented cast to voice this fresh faced version of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The game features Dave Franco (Now You See Me, Neighbors) as the smooth and charming Tony Stark, Alexandra Daddario (both Percy Jackson movies, American Horror Story: Hotel) as the hyperactive fashionista, Janet Van Dyne (a.k.a. the Wasp), and Colton Haynes (Arrow, Teen Wolf) as the God of Thunder, Thor.

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    Haynes pointed out that he’s no stranger to the world of spandex and superpowers. “I have more experience with Super Heroes and the supernatural than some, but this is the first time I’m playing an actual god. Thor literally brings the thunder, and has helped build people’s passion for Super Heroes for over 60 years. I was excited that this is a really fresh take on the character, being a young adult going to college. It was great working with Marvel and TinyCo on bringing him to life in MARVEL Avengers Academy.”

    TinyCo even picked up WWE superstar (and fodder of memes everywhere) John Cena to lend his voice to Marvel’s gamma-irradiated powerhouse, the Hulk. Talking about his role as the Jade Giant, Cena said, “I had a ton of fun playing one of my favorite Super Heroes ever, the Hulk! In MARVEL Avengers Academy, this is a Hulk that has to exist in an environment with ‘rules’, not just ‘smash’. It really allowed me to show some lesser-seen sides of the big green guy that people might not experience in the movies. It’s was great getting a chance to work with crew at Marvel and TinyCo on this awesome project.”

    MARVEL Avengers Academy was officially released last week for both iOS and Android devices. The game is free to download, but like most free-to-play games, features in-app purchases ranging in price from $1.99 to $99.99 (Wow! Does anyone EVER actually pay that much at once for a mobile game?). On the upside, that cost is for packages of either gold coins or crystals, which can also be earned through various in-game activities.

    Game Title:             Marvel Avengers Academy
    Publisher:                TinyCo
    Publisher URL:      http://www.tinyco.com

    Platform:  
    iOS – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marvel-avengers-academy/id1061768547
    Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tinyco.avengers

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    Cute Valentine’s Deal from Artifex Mundi

     

    mainsite_imageIt’s nearly Valentine’s Day, love is in the air and nothing makes my heart flutter quite like a great deal on games.  If you don’t already have a relationship with Artifex Mundi, now is a great time to start up a fling with this casual gamer creator and publisher.  Their “Cute Valentine’s Deal” has three of their games priced up to 85 percent off now through February 19th.

    Artifex Mundi is best known for their stunning hidden object games with compelling stories. As an added bonus their games are available on multiple platforms, which is something I appreciate.

    For Valentine’s Day, they are running sale promotions in the Mac App Store, Google Play, BlackBerry World, the Windows Store, and the Windows Phone store. There are 2 games in each store, discounted at different levels at least through the weekend. Here’s the breakdown:

    Mac App Store:
    Clockwork Tales:Of Glass and Ink, $2.99 (normally $6.99)
    Time Mysteries 3:The Final Enigma, $1.99 (normally $6.99)

    Google Play:
    Grim Legends:The Forsaken Bride, $1.99 (normally $4.99)
    Time Mysteries 3:The Final Enigma, $0.99 (normally $4.99)

    BlackBerry World:
    Grim Legends:The Forsaken Bride, $1.99 (normally $4.99)
    Time Mysteries 3:The Final Enigma, $0.99 (normally $4.99)

    The Windows Store:
    Clockwork Tales:Of Glass and Ink, $2.99 (normally $6.99)
    Time Mysteries 3:The Final Enigma, $0.99 (normally $6.99)

    The Windows Phone Store:
    Clockwork Tales:Of Glass and Ink, $0.99 (normally $2.99)
    Time Mysteries 3:The Final Enigma, $0.99 (normally $2.99)

    Visit the Artifex Mundi site for more information and links to purchase any of these games. I really enjoy their games and I hope that you will too.

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    Puzzle game Best Fiends now available for iOS mobile devices

    Best_Fiends_Screenshots_5_1536x2048-768x1024Seriously, a Helsinki, Finland-based mobile entertainment startup, has released its first IP, an iOS game called Best Fiends.

    The title is set in Minutia, a world populated with cute yet fiendish creatures that players must collect. These adorable, courageous little guys lived in harmony until a meteor struck, transforming the Slugs of Mount Boom into an army of pests that are now sliming and chomping their way through Minutia. Now, our tiny heroes have to save their families from the slugs by gaining special powers as players level up. To do so, players engage in the type of puzzle-based gameplay that has them matching shapes to make them disappear.

    The new IP has a pedigree worth noting; the company behind it was created by former Rovio (Angry Birds) executives Andrew Stalbow and Petri Järvilehto, with music from “Despicable Me”‘s Heitor Pereira performed by the Budapest Art Orchestra. Best Fiends was designed from the ground up as the first of what Seriously hopes is a global entertainment franchise.

    Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Järvilehto said in a press release, “The story of Minutia and the cute yet fiendish creatures that inhabit it is something we’ve been passionate about developing for a long time. For us, this launch is the beginning of an incredible journey that will unfold through a trilogy of games.”

    Best Fiends has already had a soft launch with what the company says were promising results, and the next installment in the trilogy is already in the works. The second game is due out in 2015.

    The game is free to play with in-app purchase options, and is currently only available at The App Store worldwide for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. Check out the Best Fiends YouTube channel, complete with trailers, reveal videos, making-of pieces, and more. Get it at www.AppStore.com/BestFiends, or find out more information at www.bestfiends.com. The game is expected to be available for Android devices via Google Play and the Amazon App Store before the end of the year.

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    Facebook Messenger Is Not The Devil You Think It is

    facebook_logo

    Ever since I got on this website called Facebook and started sharing in my very own online community, I’ve been very cognizant of what Facebook offers me – for free. I’ve reconnected with high school acquaintances, discovered that my fellow college alumnae have created an amazing network of groups for every topic from race relations to fashion, and met some super-cool people I now consider my friends even though I’ve never met them in person. Like Marcia and Desirai, for example.

    And every time Facebook makes a change, I can hear the multitudes universally condemning Facebook – for no longer showing posts chronologically or changing its privacy rules or what have you. I always roll my eyes because, you know, Facebook is free, and no one is stopping anyone from leaving (unlike Comcast). Honestly, our society requires constant change to keep itself fresh and innovative. Change can be good.

    I guess I’m pretty laid back in general. Stuff like this doesn’t bother me.

    But naturally, I’m concerned about my privacy. When I first got the message on my lovely little Samsung Galaxy S4 that I was going to have to get the Messenger app in order to send messages on Facebook, I was indeed  irritated. I thought it was a bit high-handed of Facebook to make me download a whole new app to just send messages (I had just gotten my Samsung a few months ago after trading up from a phone that would barely show me any of my messages at all, so even getting my FB mail was an upgrade).

    I held out for a while, then got curious and downloaded it. (PRO TIP: Use Facebook through your phone’s web browser if you really, really don’t want to install Messenger. You can access your messages that way.)  Then I uninstalled it, because I was having issues with battery life that started around the same time and wondered if Messenger was the culprit. It wasn’t.

    So I reinstalled it, and guess what. I LIKE IT. I like the little Chat Heads that pop up and show me Desirai just sent me a message. I like its functionality and dependability. I find Messenger pretty seamless overall, and I use my phone for Facebook now more than even my regular computer.

    There have been a lot of complaints about the permissions that Messenger requires. I get it. It sounds like Big Brother. You look at the list, and alarms go off in your head. For like a minute.

    According to the applications manager in my phone, Messenger is allowed to: directly call phone numbers, read phone status and identity, edit my text messages, read my text messages, receive text messages, send SMS messages, take pictures and videos, record audio, find my approximate location through a network, find my precise location through GPS, read my call log, read my contacts, read my contact card, modify or delete the contents of my USB storage, find accounts on the device, read Google service configuration, change network connectivity, download files without notification, get full network access, view Wi-FI connections, run at startup, draw over other apps, control vibration, prevent phone from sleeping, change my audio settings, read sync settings, and install shortcuts.

    Whew. Freak-out time, right? I mean, WTF. All these permissions seem intrusive and risky. Until you think about it. The Facebook help page about Messenger says this: “we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them.”

    That’s important, right there. Every permission that Facebook asks for helps Messenger, you know, operate. It’s what makes Messenger a good app. It gets permission to take photos because how else are you going to send them to your friends? Would you rather a statement pop up whenever you want to send your admiring fans a selfie, asking you for permission to upload and send it out? If you got that EVERY SINGLE TIME you posted a picture using your phone, wouldn’t you at some point choose to bypass the permission question anyway?

    If Messenger doesn’t record audio, then you can’t send voice messages and make voice calls. If Messenger can’t directly call numbers, you can’t call people. If it can’t receive text messages, you can’t add phone numbers to your account. If it can’t read contacts, it can’t figure out if a contact is already in your system and sync them. Here’s a nice article from Fidonerdi that breaks some of this down further: The Truth About The New Facebook Messenger.

    I think what’s gotten lost in all this hoopla about being required to install Messenger and accept its permissions is that it’s a good app, and it works well. So, breathe. It’s all okay. Facebook is not the devil.

    Yet.

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    Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair Review

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    I’m starting to really enjoy the point-and-click adventures from G5 Games, now that I’ve reviewed a number of them. The latest, Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair, isn’t perfect, but it still may edge out most of the others to land in one of my top spots and it’s well worth the under-$5 price tag in Mac’s Apple Store.

    Players take on the role of Mina Lockhart, who apparently got rid of some bad guy named Strix in the previous game (I haven’t played Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix, so I can’t really speak to the quality of that game). Apparently, Strix is back, and Mina and her sidekick Malik have to defeat him again in order to protect the mythical creatures of Dragon Mountain. her quest involves finding items, solving puzzles and opening a portal, all to locate Strix’s lair.

    Unlike some of G5’s other games, this “hidden object” title doesn’t actually include the type of mini-game in which you get a list of items and have to locate them all within a mostly static picture. Most of the puzzles here are actually logic games of one sort or another – slide balls along tracks to get objects where they’re supposed to go, solve tangrams, find all the things you need to make a loaf of bread, or plant and pick flowers. These little diversions are fun and usually make sense within the confines of the story, although they’re not especially creative compared to some of the puzzles in other G5 games. There were one or two that I had no earthly idea how to solve based on the instructions given to me, so I just skipped them.

    This particular title happens to be short on story, but that’s okay. One of my other G5 favorites, Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call, is much more intricate but also more pretentious and embellished, and I didn’t really mind the lack of  characterization, curses, and complications in this one. This game is simpler – the tasks are not complicated, the missions are relatively easy and more logical,  and the puzzles are challenging but mostly straightforward. I just felt like I didn’t have to think so hard to figure where to go to get things or how to put items together.

    According to a press release, this game features 63 scenes, 27 mini-games, five chapters and three difficulty modes. You can unlock achievements by collecting stone dragons and solving puzzles (you can skip the puzzles, but you won’t get the achievements). A “combiner” tool automatically shows you the silhouettes of the objects you need to solve a particular problem, and the ever-handy “hint” button is always available when charged. Attractive settings inside a town and a mountain include a flooded cavern, a pumpkin coach, a cemetery, a windmill and a garden. The voice acting is so-so but likable, although the words sometimes don’t match up perfectly with the written dialogue.

    Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair from G5 Entertainment and Cateia Games is currently available for the Mac iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Google Play (Android) for $4.99. The version I played was designed for Macs.

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    Idol Words

    IdolWords

     

    I have a really unhealthy addiction to word puzzle games. So today’s announcement that Idol Words, a fun, fast and addictive jungle-themed word puzzle game arrived on Amazon is going to severely impact my ability to get everything on my to-do list done. Created by  Outplay Entertainment, a social and mobile game company housed in the UK, Idol Worlds will allow players to face-off against friends in a fast-paced word search adventure.

    Idol Words for Amazon is the complete package; achievements, stats, daily challenges and fun with friends! We’re delighted to be bringing the world’s wildest word hunt to the platform! notes Producer, Stephen King.

    Idol-WordsUse powerful boosts and the temple’s ancient stone letters to spell words – the longer the better! Use all the letters on the game board and watch as it flips to reveal a whole new challenge! The more words, the more flips… the more flips, the more points! How many words can you discover? How high can you score? Your adventure awaits!

     

    • CHALLENGE YOUR FRIENDS! – Search, spell and scramble your way to the highest score after 3 rounds to win!
    • BOARD-BUSTING BOOSTS! – Freeze Time, Flip the Board, or send your score soaring with a 4x Multiplier!
    • RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE! – Chat, brag and challenge, and take the top spot in our global leaderboards!
    • BRILLIANT BRAIN TEASERS! – Try a unique new puzzle every day and enjoy 4 modes of play!
    • BECOME THE ULTIMATE WORD HUNTER! – Compare endless stats and unlock over 50 Trophies!

    Idol Words is available on Andriod for $2.99 on Amazon. You can also find Idol Words on Facebook  or  @IdolWordGame on Twitter.

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    I Missed This Whole Flappy Bird Thing

    flappy_bird_hits_1

    Over the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has occasionally forced upon me images of this little pixelated bird flying between pipes that look like they came from 8-bit Mario’s world. Apparently, these pictures came from a frustrating yet addictive game called Flappy Bird. I dismissed this game the same way I initially dismissed Candy Crush Saga requests – as something too meaningless and faddish and probably dumb to really catch my interest. I figured if it was any good, it would stick around and down the line I’d download it and check it out.

    And then, suddenly, creator Dong Nguyen announced he was pulling the game. I gasped, wondered where I could download Flappy Bird before he completely eradicated all traces of its existence, started contemplating if I should get it for my Android phone or my iPad, then got a work email I had to respond to and promptly forgot all about it. Then I went on with my day, because I am a mom and I have crap I have to do.

    Sure enough, Flappy Bird is no more. As I write this phones loaded with Flappy Bird are being offered on eBay for thousands of dollars, Kotaku is issuing mea culpas for possibly contributing to bullying that maybe led Flappy Bird’s creator to shut it down, people are debating the little app’s merits (great endless game with lots of genuine buzz, or terrible time-waster inflated by bots and ripping off Mario, Grand Theft Auto and everything else?). And I missed the whole thing.

    I’m fascinated by all the buzz, generated over a game that existed for just a few months. Flappy Bird reportedly took just a few nights to make, and was made available for free because its developer felt he couldn’t charge for a game that simple. The game, during its lifespan (and it’s been available since mid-2013), generated something like 146,000 reviews – many of which were put up on the last day, and the tongue-in-cheek nature of which helped make it even more popular. BuzzFeed created an article, which right there means You’ve Made It and Every Idiot Knows What This Is. Slate.com and even The Atlantic have weighed in. Flappy Bird, at the time of its demise, was bringing its creator $50,000 a day in ad revenue. This is a great story, right? With a strange ending.

    The popularity of the game may have been too much for Nguyen, who probably took it down so he didn’t have to deal with haters, critics  (did I mention it’s a FREE download?) and other folks displaying bad behavior. All asking for more from the game’s creator, making him feel overloaded and out of his depth (as seen on his Twitter feed). Well, at least, that’s my interpretation of why he quit. And now he’s getting death threats too.

    See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Thanks to the Internet and people, I won’t ever get to play Flappy Bird and decide for myself if I like it or not. Unless I’m willing to shell out $6,000 for this iPhone with Flappy Bird installed (spoiler alert: I’m not). Not that I’m actually blaming everyone (or anyone). I’m just thinking that this hyper-critical modern world we live in today, full of instant feedback, faceless comments, a forum for everyone, and out-of-control virality, can sure be a mixed bag.

    And as a result, Flappy Bird has flown off into the sunset, hopefully dodging green pipes along the way. I’m just going to have to find another game to play.

    Titanfall, anyone?

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    Play God Day – January 9th

    app_pocketgod2

    Tired of people telling you they can’t stand your “God complex”? Well, today is your day to let that personality flaw shine like a heavenly light!

    January 9th is an exceptionally obscure, obscure holiday…Play God Day. While I was unable to ascertain exactly what Play God Day means, I have some suggestions on how to celebrate it.

    Suggested game: Pocket God
    I remember when this game came out five years ago. Developed by Bolt Creative, Pocket God allows you to…well…play God. You’re given an island, some pygmies, and you can choose to be kind, or creatively cruel. The game is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Facebook.

    MV5BMTYwMTUyNzAxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDYwOTY3._V1_SX640_SY720_  Suggested movie: Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey

    In Bruce Almighty, Bruce Nolan (Carrey) blames God for all of his problems and goes into a fit of rage. God (Morgan Freeman) decides to step aside and see if Bruce can do his job better. It’s a cheesy movie, but what more would you expect from Jim Carrey?

    Or you could skip the games and movies and just do whatever you think God would do for a day. Be kind to your friends, do nice things for others, forgive someone for something you’ve been holding onto way too long. And if you believe God is evil, go out and stomp on some ants* or something. It’s your day, have fun!

    *Please note that we at The Mommy Gamers do not condone violence against ants or anything else. Not much anyway.

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